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Andrew Bush - Mobile Development and Giving Back to Community

Season 5, Episode 6 | May 5, 2022

In today's episode, Dan and Bekah talk to Andrew Bush about his experiences with mobile development, and his thoughts on community and what it means to give back.


Andrew Bush

Andrew is a mobile developer specializing in React Native based out of Wisconsin in the US. He has been developing professionally for 3 years and has really found his passion in mobile apps and accessibility. Being legally blind himself, he recognizes the need for inclusion in software development so that EVERYONE can use the applications we create.

Outside of his professional life, Andrew is a dedicated amateur runner with a love for the sport that rivals his love of Swedish Fish candy. You can also find him participating as a co-lead of the Virtual Coffee monthly challenges where he strives to create engagement and growth combined with the feeling of an intimate community.

Show Notes:

In today's episode, Dan and Bekah talk to Andrew Bush, a Mobile Engineer Specializing in React Native. One of the updates we've made to our site is to have tags on our members page to indicate what volunteer roles they have. Andrew is one of our Monthly Challenge team leads, and he shared with us his experiences helping to facilitate the challenges, keeping our community motivated, and the processes we go through. We also go into what it's like to be a mobile developer, and the learning path he's been on throughout his career.


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Transcript:

Bekah:

Hello, and welcome to season five, episode six of the Virtual Coffee podcast. I'm Bekah. And this is a podcast that features members of the Virtual Coffee community. Virtual Coffee is an intimate group of developers at all stages of their coding journey. And they're here on this podcast, sharing their stories and what they've learned. And we're here to share it with you here with me. Today is my cohost.

Dan:

Hello, Bekah. Today, we are talking with Andrew Bush. Andrew is a mobile engineer specializing in React Native. Um, and so if you've been to, um, Virtual Coffee.io recently checked out our members page, you might have noticed, we now have, we have all of our members there and. Now we have a little tags that say what roles they have, uh, if, if people are volunteering, helping out in Virtual Coffee. And so Andrew is one of the people that has been helping out with us for a while he's been doing, um, he's been helping lead the monthly challenge team, um, for the past. I don't know how long has he been? I'm not sure. I can't remember off the top of my head how long, but it feels like a while.

Bekah:

It has been a while.

Dan:

yeah, it feels like to me, it's been while,

Bekah:

last year, for sure.

Dan:

Yeah. And, um, so monthly challenges you can read more about on our site as well. Um, but we do a different challenge every month and, um, and yeah, so Andrew has been helping lead that group along with Ali and, um, who was on the podcast season. I don't remember which season, but she was on, she was on, she was on a while ago. Um, so yeah, we talked about that for a while. And, um, Andrew also, he kind of talked about. You know what it's been like leaning the leading in the group and, uh, helping, you know, facilitates challenges, stuff like that. And, um, we'll stop a while about, you know, what it's like to be a mobile developer. Um, some of the experiences with React Native and, uh, of course his journey through his.

Bekah:

Yeah, it was great talking about that. And I really love that the tags recognize our members and what they're doing. I mean, not just because we want to recognize our members, but also it helps other people to see who's doing what and how they can get involved in Virtual Coffee. And we actually haven't. Get involved section on the site. So if anybody is out there and wants to add a tag to their name, can fill out one of those forms and we can, um,

Dan:

And they can get involved.

Bekah:

yeah.

Dan:

Yeah. Uh, yeah. So if you're listening and you want to check that out, um, it's in the resources section VirtualCoffee.io/resources, and then I dunno, click through in there. It's in there somewhere. Um, so yeah, uh, it was a good episode overall and, uh, I know you're going to enjoy it.

Bekah:

We start every episode of the podcast. Like we start every Virtual Coffee. We introduce ourselves with our name, where we're from, what we do and a random check-in question. We hope you enjoy this episode. Our intro question is if you could live in an animated movie, what would it be? My name is Bekah. I am a technical community builder from a small town in Ohio, and I would live in. I feel like it needs to have some kind of magical aspect to it, because that would be more fun. I was going to say beauty and the beast. Cause that's my favorite movie. I'll just stick with that.

Dan:

Uh, pre beast conversion or post, like, is he still The Beast? Basically, I mean, and all the other, you know,

Bekah:

Yeah, there's no more magic if he's not the

Dan:

Right, right, That's my, that was my question.

Bekah:

kind of boring.

Dan:

But if he's at The Beast, then, you know, you got a whole other problem to deal with.

Bekah:

Yeah. I wonder if his fur is soft.

Dan:

You know, I actually just watched it with the kids. Uh, you know, it was their first time, like a week or two ago. I didn't watch it for a long time. Um, so like all the furniture are his servants or whatever his household staff, well, what. Did he not have furniture at all before that? Or did they all turn into furniture? And then they like just threw out the existing, alive furniture.

Bekah:

furniture. I think it's kind of got that Encanto vibe where there's in the house. the head of all of the cups is Mrs. Pots, but not every cup is a household worker. They just have the magic now.

Dan:

Oh, wait. So you're saying like alive cups, but they weren't actually people before they just like,

Bekah:

right.

Dan:

the magic is like turning.

Bekah:

chip, like they were people, but there are other cups that move around and do but that's just the magic that is commanding

Dan:

Got it.

Bekah:

and echanting the house.

Dan:

Okay. Uh, alright. Hi, I'm Dan. I do web development in Cleveland, Ohio, and, um, I think the first thing that popped in my mind was Moana um, the, uh, you know, the life there seems pretty simple. Um, you know, on island plus canoeing is one of my favorite things and, um, That'd be cool. Uh, Maui seems like a cool hang. So I'm going with, I'm going with Moana as my, as my animated universe to live in.

Bekah:

Are you taking your rain shell with you?

Dan:

Uh, probably I won't have to use it very much, but you know, I'm sure it rains there sometimes there's like a rainy season, right. I would think. Thanks for, thanks for that.

Bekah:

Just making sure you had it. I know it's important to you.

Andrew:

And I'm Andrew and I'm a mobile developer in the React Native space based out of Wisconsin. Uh, I, I think I'd live in the valley in Encanto, but I have a bit of a recency bias. I just like, that's the most recent animated film I've seen, but I, I. In the intro sequence. There's these. So it's in Columbia and then the intro sequence. There's these kids who like, are like running with little cups of coffee and they're shaking and the coffee splashing out of the cups. I'd be like one of those little kids. That's my vibe.

Bekah:

Yeah, Yeah, that is my. my kids love, or my five-year-old loves that part where. She says Maribel Mirabelle says, that's why coffee is for grownups. They just laugh every single time. Um, so welcome, Andrew. Thank you so much for being here with us for this episode of our podcast. And we always like to get started with the origin story of each of our guests. So what brought you here to the state of your Andrew developer career?

Andrew:

All right. I should've expected a question like this. I got to work on my elevator pitch anyway. Um, Yeah, it's sort of a, I don't know if there is a traditional path, but I would say mine is non-traditional. Uh, I, the first time I ever wrote code was, uh, HTML, not even like full-blown HTML, just tags to make my MySpace page cooler. Um, and then like a long time later, I thought I'd go to school for that. And. Um, you know, that didn't go super well, super well for me, I, uh, my major wasn't partying, so they kicked me out and, uh, you know, I did, you know, after sorta like, you know, trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up for many years, I was like, you know, I actually really liked programming and I really liked web development specifically. So I. I have sort of sorted things out. And I actually, I went back to school again, got an associates degree and thought, all right, I just need to get a job. I need to get into the space. Um, and I took an interview for like a very generic you're going to write code, but they didn't tell me what. And I ended up writing React Native code, uh, and I did not expect to be in a mobile developer space. Yeah. I actually really enjoyed it. And that's where I've stuck since then. And that's gotten me to here.

Bekah:

Yeah. So this is always been fascinating to me because I don't know that many React Native developers. So can you talk a little bit about how you ended up there? Cause it's not, you know, at least, I don't know a ton of people doing react, native development. First of All wait, maybe let's pause and what is React Native development. And then answer my other question.

Andrew:

All right. Yeah. So React Native is a, cross-platform framework, uh, for mobile apps. They are into the web space now. So you can write all in one, uh, stack and then deploy wherever. But yeah, the original intention is so that you can have. A single code base in single skillsets to be able to write Android and iOS applications because native Android applications that are going to be in Java or Kotlin and native iOS, that's going to be in swift. So rather than having, you know, especially in a professional environment, distinct teams, knowing distinct stacks and trying to always keep those things in sync react. Native is one of the solutions that was out there. Uh, Uh, when I first started, we started with, uh, native scripts, which is just another one of the options out there, and then ended up pivoting because of the community support for React Native it's made by Facebook. So there's just a lot of support and funding behind it. Um, but yeah, it's at its core. It's JavaScript. Um, but professionally I've always used TypeScript on top of it.

Dan:

That's cool. And so does that work out? Um, from what I understand, I've never really worked in it from dabbling. Um, but. From what I understand, you have the ability to do some native stuff, if you need to, or whatever, in like real app, you know, in non-classroom apps that you'd like the kind of stuff you're actually working on. Do does the cross-platform thing, like honestly, like work out really well, uh, as opposed like, or do you need to end up having to do like little weird little things for, for, you know, for different platforms, from time to time.

Andrew:

Yeah, well, it, uh, in my experience, um, which I would, you know, for context, I've, I've been doing this for, I've been doing it professionally for about three years. So in my experience, rarely do we actually need to write native code. Occasionally you'll run into like, We had some weird issue with splash screens at my previous job and the solution wasn't native solution. But a lot of times you find, you can just get a package, that'll handle that for you. Um, but yeah, actually most things are pretty seamless. The, the, I guess the overhead you get is recognizing that sense. It builds across multiple platforms. It's not always gonna like, come when it gets compiled, it's not going to behave in exactly the same way. Every time. There's always like little corks and sometimes it's specifically on device. So we've got like, we, when, when you write it, you frequently, when you're devving, you're like using a simulator or an emulator. And, but then like before you roll out to production, As our QA is telling me when I'm doing dev work to, I need to test on physical device because that uncovers more issues that you don't see. So that's like the big thing with it, I guess, more so than, I dunno, I sort of lost the plot there.

Dan:

More so than, than different platforms and stuff is, is really just a, if I can understand what you're saying, more, more of the. The fact that you're working specifically for a, you know, you're building an app for it device that somebody holds in their hand. Right. And so as opposed to something on a screen with mouse or another pointer device,

Andrew:

right.

Dan:

so yeah, that seems like probably probably good advice and probably easy to forget when you're, when you're in the weeds, you know, Kind of been developing for a long time on a, on a thing. And just looking at your simulator, um, on your computer. Um, I certainly like even on websites have that same thing. Right, right. I forget, uh, I look at it, you know, I see what it looks like on the iPhone, you know, a simulator or the, that, that Indev tools even, you know, which is even another further step removed from the actual thing. Right. Um, but it's always good to take a pass, you know, see what it feels like, swiping things or just scrolling, like out, it looks scrolling on the, on your. You know, for an iPhone, at least it has the, what you call the scroll that keeps going when you, when you flick it. Um, I can't remember what it's called, but there's, there's a name for it, but like on an iPhone, when you scroll, you know, everyone used to it, you scroll with your finger and you kind of flick it and it keeps going. Right. Which is what most people on, um, computers, you know, are using, uh, don't have that, right. They're using a touch pad or a scroll bar, whatever, and it stops. Right. And that experience is a little bit different. You're going to see some, you're going to see things, um, especially if you have interaction going on, uh, You know, it scroll interaction, things like that. Um, it seems like a pretty important step to take. So

Andrew:

that's an actually really interesting, uh, the. Is there might be a specific name for it. I'm not thinking of it either, but like, you know, continuous scrolling or maybe something like that. But yeah, that is it's interesting when developing and it, there are certain things that each platform will natively do on its own. And. In my experience, I try and create apps that are consistent. So an iOS user, I want them to see exactly what an Android user sees, but you also have to be aware of, well, what are platform specific things that say an iPhone user is going to expect when they're in their apps? Right? Navigation is one. I phones don't have hardware buttons for back navigation. That's like by default, they've got, they usually have a little back arrow in the corner. Um, but yeah, until that scrolling, um, it's interesting on those types of scrollable things in apps, there's a really slick animation. I think that just kinda is native to iOS that when you get to. It does that infinite scroll. And I just think it looks really smooth and you get to the bottom of the list and it kind of balances there at the bottom. And I think it looks really good and that just doesn't happen natively on Android. And it's like, Hmm.

Dan:

Uh, I looked it up at the it's called momentum scrolling. And, uh, I think that includes that scroll past that exact behavior you're talking about. Um, but it, so it's because it is cool and I've, I've like looked at it and tried to recreate it a couple of times in, in JavaScript, whatever, but it, it does have momentum just going, it's a great name for it. Cause it's like, it really does. You flick it in and it starts fast and goes in and slows down and stuff like that. Um, It's momentum scrolling. That's that's what it's called.

Bekah:

This has been a really long week. And in my mind, I was like, I want that to be my nickname. That doesn't make any sense, but like,

Andrew:

I'd say by itself, momentum is a pretty cool nickname.

Dan:

Yeah.

Andrew:

scrolling part is sort of weird to assign to a human.

Bekah:

Um, Yeah, I'm not sure where to go with that either. Um, so I want to, I have some minimal experience with React Native. And so one of the questions people ask me all the time is, well, what's the difference? Like how what's the learning curve. From React to React Native, which I actually think that React Native is easier to learn, but I say that as somebody who learned React first, I don't know if you have any thoughts on that, Andrew. I just like, you know, here's a view. This is, it's not a diff it's a, it's a view that makes sense.

Andrew:

Yeah, I've gone the other way. I wouldn't say I've learned React so to speak. I sort of vicariously have by doing React Native, but yeah, I went the other way. I started with React Native and I've done some dabbling in react. Um, I think. Right. The, the distinct differences I noticed one is like in the JSX. So where you're using traditional HTML type tags, you just, you don't use those in React Native. You use. Traditional native tags. Um, I remember seeing like view a scroll view, text input, like very these very declarative names. I did a little bit of development in Xamarin in college, and that was a mobile framework, uh, that uses like XML type markup and. It had very similar naming structure. So like that, that stuff was super familiar to me, but yeah, I find it like that's that kind of stuff just makes sense. Um, yeah, I think really the other sort of, it's more of a, like a mental contextual. Between the two, like knowing that you're working on a mobile device, that it receives taps, it doesn't receive clicks. It receives like swipes and, you know, it's, you gotta just be aware of the user experience is very different. Um, I think of like our, another member of VC, uh, Louis, he coincidentally joined my team. Um, and at, at work. He had never done React negative and he ramped up so fast. He had React to experience and he was instantly making contributions. Um, so I think, yeah. Want one skillset can really help you with the.

Bekah:

Yeah, I for sure. And it's interesting because I heard somebody talking about React Native documentation once where they. Said initially there was an assumption that everybody who was doing React Native was coming from react. And then when they asked for feedback, they found that actually there were a lot of non-reactive developers that were coming in. So there were assumptions built into the documentation, um, about where folks were at. And then they took that feedback and updated things and, and made it approachable for, um, I would say more of an entry level. Learner to navigate through the documentation, which is always fascinating to me.

Andrew:

Yeah, I'm, I'm no superhero. So like, I read that those documentation, like I read that still on a regular basis, but you know, I'm not pouring over it like I did in the beginning, but. I would frequently have to pop back over to like, well, what's the React documentation, because that has like context that I need. I've found that definitely to be true. Um, but yeah, it was it's interesting. I I'm coming from, like, when I was in school, they taught us angular, JS, whatever the. I think it's the framework that people don't like as much, uh, the version of angular and, uh, it's like is framework experience. That's what I had. But otherwise it was just JavaScript, HTML, CSS and some PHP. So like it really coming into like choosing a framework, it kind of was like, well, I know Java script, so I can, I can kind of figure this out.

Dan:

I love that mentality that, you know, Just being just like the confidence to, you know, be able to be able to know you can like pick something else up, you know, even if it's going to take a minute, um, we were just talking about that with Roger. I think I didn't realize, oh, that's podcast recording. We, um, yeah, we're talking about like learning and, and, and how that that's one of those things once. Like get some job experience, you know, and you realize like everybody's kind of in the same boat, um, and like new big things are become a little less scary because even if it's just a big black box, you know, that you don't really know anything about, uh, not like once you've, figured out your way around one, one programming, you know, I don't language it paradigm and whatever. Um, so many of the things. Transfer it, somebody that concept's transfer, you know, Roger was saying, they're like, oh, you really need to know is like, if, and for loops, you know, or whatever, and you can pretty much get your way through any language. Sounds like that. Which I agree, which I agreed with, you know, in, in principle, it's, they're all, they're all kind of doing a lot of the same stuff. So.

Bekah:

Um, I'm going to shift the conversation just a little bit, because I know you said that you've been a developer for about three years and that's where I've been to. So I know for me, COVID impacted a lot of my early job experience, and I'm just curious how, if that impacted you as well. And I know, you know, early career developers trying to find community and then suddenly being isolated. Creates extra challenges on top of things.

Andrew:

Yeah. So my. Story there is I, I had a job at a local company, um, and I mean, Wisconsin cost of living. Isn't very high. I mean, depending where you live, where I live, it's not, uh, therefore pay is not very high. So I took a local job and, uh, you know, compensation. And, but I was sticking around and because it was my first job at the time, and I just worked with that company to get career growth. And, and then the pandemic started, I was at, I've been doing it a year and a half, almost two years at that point. No. I don't know what time math is hard for me. there are libraries for that. Uh, I, and then the pandemic started in my company was immediately like, everybody go home. We're going virtual. And I, I left the office that day and didn't look back. I didn't, I was, I was stoked to come work from home. Because I am, uh, I'm legally blind. So like commuting, I just depend on somebody else to get me to work. That was, uh, inconvenient for my fiance. Um, inconvenient for my wallet. If I needed to. You know, get like a ride share or something. I mean, my work was six miles away. Maybe somebody can bike that every day if I'm just not for it. Um, um, I'm realizing I'm giving a really long drawn out answer to

Bekah:

was

Andrew:

So, yeah, so then it, and, uh, To that same point, like, um, with my vision, it's, it's way easier for me to get comfortable at home. Like the ergonomics of my setup, you know, I have, my monitors are mounted, so, you know, I, I have 27 inch monitors. They're like a very modest size, um, even maybe on the large side and I get that. Inches from my face, but because they're mounted, I can have my keyboard, like, you know, way farther back. So I get that nice, you know, 90 degree in my elbows, but I can still see. And like, I just can't do that in an office. I can't be comfortable. Um, yeah, so it was like really good for me. And, but I quickly noticed like, Especially when you took away, like the being at work, water cooler type stuff, you know, spending time with coworkers, it's like, I, I don't like this company that much and I'm not, I'm very alone. Um, and so I needed a new job. I started looking and I was just not like, even with two years experience, right. I was, I was taking interviews and they wanted people. With more experience than me or, yeah, I just wasn't it, whatever it was, they were looking for. I wasn't it. And, uh, I thought, well, okay. So everybody tells me, I remember in school and just throughout my life, they're like, oh, it's about who, you know, not what you know, and you should do networking. And, and I thought I am. An introvert. So, no, thank you. I don't do that. And I was listening to a podcast, a tech podcast. I can't remember which one now, but actually you were on it Bekah and you had talked about Virtual Coffee and I was like, okay, that sounds different. That sounds like, you know, it's networking. Right. But it's. Traditionally what I think of, and it's a community of people doing the same thing that I'm doing, and I need that. And I am so glad I listened to whatever that podcast was.

Bekah:

Maybe the React Native podcast.

Andrew:

It's very possible. yeah, and, and it's, it's, it's struck me and I'm like, I'm going to join this community. And I did that and yeah, ever since, like I joined VC, I got this like sense of, uh, self-confidence that I really needed. I think for finding a job outside of where I live and, um, and, and a community of like other people working to better themselves. Technically or even on technically it's the thing I love about this community too, is it's not just about the work that we do. Um, so that was, Virtual Coffee. It was the launch platform that got me to the job that I got it actually like in actual, tangible terms. I got my job through a different avenue, but I think sort of the confidence in myself that I gained the, you know, I, I had like access to people who could help me, you know, how do I, how do I present myself at interviews? How do I get better at that? How do I answer? X coding question. And that all led me to, I think, finding success in finding a job and finding an equitable job, right? Like, so I like, I, like I opened with, you know, I was, I had a hard, I had limited options locally, you know, limited tech stacks, limited pay, limited benefits, and I was able to get a fair compensation. By being able to look elsewhere and being confident enough to look elsewhere and say, I am worth this.

Bekah:

Thanks so much for sharing that I. Really appreciate it. I appreciate everything that you're doing at Virtual Coffee. And so, you know, we're happy to have you here no matter what, but especially you're one of our monthly challenge team leads. And so I feel like. You're really, you've really invested in the community and supporting other people to find that that feeling of connectedness and community, that seems pretty important to your journey. You want to talk a little bit about what you do as, um, monthly challenge co-team lead.

Andrew:

Yeah, for sure. For me, for me doing that, that is right. That is my opportunity to give back to Virtual Coffee. And in terms of, I got so much out of Virtual Coffee and it feels like I can't give back to this community, what it gave to me. And I think it's, I feel, I just feel compelled to, to like volunteer and help, help others get what I got, because my life, like from before Virtual Coffee from me sitting at my desk at that last job to where I am today. Oh my gosh. I, I, I have grown so much and I'm so. Happy with where I've ended up in a lot of, you know, there's a lot of influences in how that happened, but I recognize the part that, that Virtual Coffee played in that. And so me doing the monthly challenges is giving back to that. And so, yeah, at four for Virtual Coffee, we like, I mean, obviously you two know this, but we, so we do a monthly challenge and that will consist of, we have. 12 ish or I think a little bit more like maybe 13 topics that we will cover throughout the year, uh, and assign them to a month. And that's what we'll focus on. And folks in the community are free to participate in those challenges as a way to, you know, expand their own, uh, skillset or as their own opportunity for growth. So. For this upcoming month for April, we are doing, um, we are focusing on jobs on the job search and job preparation. And so like what, what I do for that and what that will look like, I guess is each challenge looks a little bit different, but there are some commonalities in, so we, we like to. Try and engage with the community throughout the challenge and, uh, provide resources and basically support for them to, to, to grow. And, um, so. I coordinate and help, like get the documentation and stuff that we need set up in order to make that magic happen. Um, I, you know, I work with people who want to be involved like, Hey, do you want to run like meetings associated with this challenge? Or do you want to try and hype people up about this challenge? Or do you want to help me write documentation about this challenge? So I try and rally around that kind of stuff. Um, Yeah, I don't do that alone. Yeah. As, as you alluded to back, I do that with, um, like my co lead on that is orally and that is so wonderful that we co lead that together because you know, it's a volunteer position, right. It's we do what we can to give back, but we also do have jobs and families. And so sometimes we can. Do as much as we'd like to, and it's nice to have somebody else there to help balance that.

Bekah:

I keep hitting the mute and unmute button, like multiple times. I don't know what's going on extra cookie today. Uh, sorry. Um, yes, that is a great overview of what our monthly challenges are. And they've been a lot of fun, I think, working through them. And like you said, we've had. I think at least 13, and we're kind of iterating on that the second year around trying to figure out how things work. And, uh, one of the great things I love to see is how many people are helping each other through that process, you know, or continuing. We had month of pairing a couple months ago, and somebody messaged me recently and said, I really loved being able to pair with other people and I want to keep that going. Um, and those are the kind of stories that really. Um, I didn't make my heart feel happy. I'm not sure how else to put it because there's this, this love of the community that develops through these things. And you know, for us, we haven't made a competition out of it. Although we have we've had leaderboards and stuff, but It's not like, oh, it's a race to the top of the leaderboard. It's just cool to be able to see what everybody's doing and how they're doing it. And, um, I'm, I'm really excited as we're going into this second year of monthly challenges with this team of people to see all of the connections that are continually made and how we can keep supporting each other.

Andrew:

It's hard to say, like all I want to say about it. I getting like lost in my own thoughts. Uh, but yes. So some of the challenges that like, so we did a, uh, writing challenge in November where we, we support it. Each other members in like in writing blog posts or putting out content and right there once like a leaderboard individually, you could see who put in how many words, but that wasn't the challenge. The challenge was to like the number challenge was we had a goal to hit. How many can we hit this many words? I think was it a hundred thousand?

Bekah:

I think it ended up being over that. Right. Did we hit the one 20 Dan? Do you remember?

Dan:

Yeah, I just looked at it. I'm trying to remember. I, I like literally looked at it yesterday cause I was doing this. I can look it up real

Bekah:

Yeah, our challenge was like 50,000 and we

Dan:

Yeah, we blast the best that in like a week. I think

Andrew:

Yeah.

Dan:

I see, well, we got to 125 over 125,000. So

Andrew:

Yeah, absolutely

Dan:

it was pretty dope.

Andrew:

And we had individual contributors there, right. Who they wrote a lot of words and as amazing. And, but we also succeeded together in crushing that goal. And I think on another individual basis, I think people succeeded in just writing something for the first time. Um, as, as someone who runs the challenge, I don't I've, I've tried to balance me participating and running it. And I just can't, I can't do well at both. Um, but that's, I do love supporting that. And so right. Giving somebody an avenue to do something for the first time to write a blog post for the first time you see a lot of developers do that, and if you want to do it, it can be super intimidating. Being on a podcast can be super intimidating. And so when you see other people doing it and you have that support, you're able to do that kind of stuff. And, but I wanted to highlight too, like one of the challenges, one of the monthly challenges we did that I really liked. Um, I think it was, we did it for December and I, I can't remember what we called it, but it was about. It was about doing like, uh, your own. What's your passion outside of your job? What's your passion outside of the technical skillset you have that brought you to Virtual Coffee? Let's talk about that. Let's celebrate that. Uh, there was really cool stuff. Uh, in, in music, we had people sharing their own musical talents. I think that was Jessica who, um, shared some cool videos in that we saw tons of. Uh, yarn work a lot of knitters in VC.

Bekah:

in new knitters too. Some people just took it up. It the creative community challenge.

Andrew:

Yes. So right then. So even in that, like people were inspiring other people to pick up new things. And I think I love that about VC is getting to share. That kind of stuff too. I get to talk about programming all day at work. Sometimes I just want to talk to people about the things that I like to do, like for creative community. I think I built a 3d puzzle and I had a lot of fun and it was very Zen and not stressful.

Bekah:

Yeah, I think that's so important. And I'm glad that you brought that one up because it's something that more and more I'm finding that I need to do. A break from coding things because it's just constant coding or community. And I love it, but I do find that my brain is sometimes just exhausted and anxious because I'm overwhelmed with all of these things that I'm doing and trying to learn. And you're never gonna learn it all. You're never going to, um, be an expert at every single thing. And I think that really, for me, it's. Like, okay. I I've learned how to do these things, but I need to make space for, for other things that don't feel productive. Um, that helped me to learn how to relax, which I, I, here's a thing that some people do. I'm still trying to figure that one out. And, and so I think it is initially Kirk's idea that monthly challenges should have four quarters and one quarter, one month per quarter should be devoted to non-tech things. And we've even been like doing more non-technical topics in Virtual Coffee, just to say like, It was okay. When one time we talked about like cleaning products for almost the entire time, I'm not good at cleaning and I don't like it, but I think I'm fascinated that there are all these tools out there that I don't know exist because I avoid knowing anything about it, but it was really a great conversation like, oh, okay. Now, now I know this adult thing.

Andrew:

Yeah, we are the IM virtual. The, and in any community you form, I think we're all, we're all diverse people with diverse interests. In the case of Virtual Coffee, we're brought together by one common interest. Um, but we get to learn from each other about all this other stuff. And I think that's one of my favorite things about visa.

Bekah:

Same same. And I, so I've been doing a lot of research on communities and community building, and there's different categories that communities are often grouped into. And I kind of love that. I don't feel like we really fit into one category. Yes, we are here because we're all interested in tech. But if you look at the conversations among people and the connections that are created, Most of the deep connections are not because we're here for tech it's because we relate to each other on a different level. And that comes with, you know, like bringing who we are and our interests outside of tech into the conversation, because that, that to some extent allows for more vulnerability and openness to happen. And I, I just love how great that is and how it's something that, that we work hard. Kind of preserve as part of our community.

Andrew:

Yeah, very much. I, I keep thinking of like all these instances of. My interactions with other community members. So I keep name-dropping them. And if that ends up being an issue, we can just throw like a clucking chicken sound or something over me the names, but Kirk and I will have a zoom calls sometimes. Like sometimes we talk about programming topics, but oftentimes I find with him, we'll just like wax philosophical for an hour. And then it was like, where did the time go? Like we came on this call to, you know, just chit chat and that's always sort of where we end up, but I love that. Like, that's why I keep coming back, uh, is to talk about philosophy with Kirk.

Bekah:

Kirk is great. And so this, well, once this episode airs, this will have been a couple of weeks, but we, this week we won Most Welcoming Developer Community. I think that's it. Is that what it is? Cause I keep saying that to people on live. Something, something about welcoming in my mind, we are definitely the most welcoming developer community. Um, I think we won the award for welcoming developer community. So that would make us the most right by default because

Dan:

No, I think there were the words called the most welcoming developer community.

Bekah:

then I'm right. Okay. Excellent.

Andrew:

That

Bekah:

where it's going with the accident. I was just going to drop that. We want it.

Andrew:

well earned well-deserved I, when I first attended a VC meeting, I very much felt that it, like, it felt like I belonged. And I got into the slack and I started like messaging people. Like there were, there was a subset of people who've made me feel like I belonged and those names will, I think will always stick out to me. Um, and like, these were the people who, when I joined VC, they were very active. They were very present and they made me feel a part of, um, I think very much about our friend. Mike was one of those.

Bekah:

Yeah. Yeah. So much, so much of that welcoming spirit. And it is, that is what makes a community special and the ability to, you know, have those. Quiet conversations or, you know, even just, there are tiny things that I think are that are hard to put into words that, you know, somebody might remember. So, um, I got a package in the mail for Christmas, no name on it, and it was a box of my favorite tea. Where did this come on? So I ask her and Kirk, Kirk knew who's done it. It was somebody from Virtual Coffee and it just tiny things like, that. I mean, well, sending a package, I feel like is a big thing because that requires a lot of energy, but the idea that somebody remembered what my favorite tea was. Was really special. And there are like small moments like that, that happen all the time with people or someone will remember something that you've said a long time ago and, and say something to you about it. And it just makes you feel like, yes, these are, these are my friends. And when people are like my online friends, I'm like, no, these are my friends, you know? Um, and so I, I for sure get what you're, you're saying there, Andrew.

Andrew:

I think of like, One of my big passions is running and we have a channel in our slack that's health and fitness. And so I get to post about that running there sometimes. And it's a opportunity for me to share that, like the friends I have who live around me, they, they don't care about my running. I don't think that they're not like. Oh, look at this runner over here. They're done. making fun of me for doing it or something, but they just don't care and that's fine. Um, but there are people at VC who I can share that with and they care. And it's like, it means so much to me, like running does as, as a hobby and a passion and to have other people like. Get invested to and care. It's priceless.

Bekah:

Yeah, W even, you know, you ran a race recently, right? And I, remember thinking like, oh, I know that he's running a race. I need to go check and see if he posted about it and ask him and like that that's it. I'm not a huge runner. I've run a couple of five Ks, but I'm invested in knowing how you did, because you're my friend.

Andrew:

Yeah, I, I see that like, um, I see that with you with, um, Weightlifting that you do, like you'll, I've seen videos of you doing squats and I'm like, she can definitely squat more than I can. But, because you know, I'm not, I'm not much of a weightlifter, but it's the exact same thing, right? Where I, I look at that and I'm like, I am here for this. I am here for this success. Your success makes it feel like my success let's be successful together.

Bekah:

That's such a great way to describe it. I feel like maybe that's the episode title let's be successful together. Right? It's just all about lifting each other up. And when times are hard, especially in the last couple of years, being able to do that is, is, I don't know, just like sometimes key to keeping that momentum. I'm going back to my nickname.

Andrew:

th the, um, one thing I did, I did want to. Um, talk about kind of related to a lot of the stuff we've said is like, one thing I've learned in, VC is I've learned, I don't think I've ever tried to put this into words. So let me give this a shot. Like I. I'm learning how to be myself and be respectful to myself and allow myself space to be a certain way. I guess I see that, like I get, I am my own worst critic. I am so hard on myself. Um, You know, I, I make one mistake and all of a sudden I'm not good enough. And you know, a lot of, some of this plays into like imposter syndrome. Type deal. Like I, my favorite, uh, analogy for this, and I do feel like this sometimes is that I am two children in a trench coat who snuck into the movies and I going to get caught. One of these days. I literally was in a work meeting a couple of months ago. And I remember I was talking, there was our CIO was in the meeting and like, PI up people. And for some reason I had the floor and everybody was listening to me and I just like froze right in the middle of talking. And I thought, what am I doing here? Like, I am too much of a child to be doing this, but, um, I think other people in VC who experienced this and have. You know, some success some days at overcoming it have taught me how to, to deal with that and how to be okay with that. Um, and one thing I guess, in, in sort of this similar vein, uh, that I carry with me a lot and I've carried into work is as we talk about, uh, in our VC meetings, we use the raise hand. Um, little reaction on zoom. Yeah, too. So that people can have space to say what they want to say or share, because it can be really hard to. To just find space in a conversation that is a reality in like the real world, it can be very difficult. People have different communication styles and some people they're like, if you want to say something, but it just interrupt me. You know, that's not me. Um, and, and I I'm very much a listener. So if I'm around a person who talks a lot, they will, I'll just sit quiet. Um, and if they don't ever give me space to say something, I don't say something. There is no, uh, you can literally raise your hand in real life. I'm not going to too fat, but in zoom there's that raise hand functionality, which allows me to find space. And I know I've talked a lot on those podcasts, so it sounds contradictory to me saying that I do that, but I feel like this is somehow a unique case, but I think. That is one of those little things. And maybe it wasn't little when it was thought of, and maybe it's not isn't little, I don't know. But it seems like a small decision that was made, right? It's all you do is you press the button. Right. But it is so big to me. And I carried that to, to my work when we have work meetings and we've had like retros and I'm like, Hey, there is not space for some of our quieter members of our team. Be themselves and to share their thoughts and we need their thoughts. So, you know, we use that at work now too. And that's a mind dump of like a sort of being myself type thing that I've learned, uh, from VCs.

Bekah:

Oh, I love that. I, and it is that is those tiny things that make a big difference, especially if somebody is an introvert or is neurodiverse, or it's just not really sure of what to expect within, um, the way that things are happening. And so having those things, I know that. At work we use, um, Google meet and there's not a hand raise function. And I realized how much I love the hand raise function now that we've been using it. So, um, actually. It was infinite red. I think that introduced us to the hand raise function because one of their founders wrote a blog post about it, but it's finding those things like that and then bringing them to the community and integrating them in to make everyone feel welcome. That that does allow for everyone to feel welcome. Well, Andrew, I appreciate you being here with us today. We're just about out of time. Are there any last things that you'd like to share with our audience or, um, any words of wisdom?

Andrew:

I think I've said a lot. Um, but I guess the, the, the closing thought to tie all the stuff I've said together is I just want to emphasize how much, uh, this community, uh, is valuable. And I, you know, to those listening, you know, if you're members of VC or potential members of VC, You know, there is more here than an opportunity out of job, um, or an opportunity, uh, at growing your technical skills. Those things are here, but there's an opportunity to be yourself. There's an opportunity to be around people who are like you. And I think just don't be afraid to, to join in all the parts that our community has to offer and, and, uh, You know, share yourself. If you get comfortable with that, it's worth it.

Dan:

I think that's awesome. Uh, thank you Andrew so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Andrew:

Thank you for having me.

Dan:

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Virtual Coffee Podcast. This episode was produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel. If you have questions or comments you can hit us up on Twitter at VirtualCoffeeIO, or email us at podcast@virtualcoffee.io. You can find the show notes, sign up for the newsletter, check out any of our other resources on our website VirtualCoffee.io. If you're interested in sponsoring virtual coffee you can find out more information on our website at VirtualCoffee.io/sponsorship. Please subscribe to our podcast and be sure to leave us a review. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next week!


The Virtual Coffee Podcast is produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel and edited by Dan Ott.